BOSTON – Now we know why Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli doesn’t run his club based on the whims and urges of the media or fan base.
Sure, sooner or later he might have to take a major risk and deal from strength to fortify his club for a championship run, but right now Chiarelli looks like the smartest hockey man in the Hub by keeping his organization’s stable of centers as over the summer.
Of course, Marc Savard – who Chiarelli revealed today would not be able to participate in the start of camp because of post-concussion symptoms – was the subject of most of those offseason trade rumors that were milled up in light of Boston’s endless list of centers. For various reasons, those deals never materialized. But Chiarelli could’ve just as easily dealt Patrice Bergeron or David Krejci, or swapped out of the No. 2 draft position that earned the Bruins Tyler Seguin, or used one of the likes of prospects Zach Hamill or Joe Colborne as trade bait.
Instead, Chiarelli has handed head coach Claude Julien a roster that at least has enough bodies to fill in for Savard, even if those bodies can’t match the star center’s high-caliber playmaking and vision.
“Any time there’s this reoccurrence, there’s concern. He’s a very durable guy, he’s played hurt in the past, he wants to come back and we want him to be healthy,” said Chiarelli.
According to Chiarelli, Savard only started feeling the symptoms (the nature of which the GM wouldn’t expand upon) in the last couple weeks. However, the Bruins and every other sports team know that concussions can be tricky things that creep in or out on a whim. That was probably a major factor in other teams shying away from acquiring him from the Bruins. Now there’s no telling when Boston will have Savard back in its lineup, and what they’ll get from him after he returns. Savard is in town, but will not work out, skate or address the media for the immediate future.
The Bruins were 18-16-7 without Savard, who also suffered a foot and a knee injury, last season. They hung onto a playoff spot down the stretch and then beat Buffalo in the first round of the playoffs without him. They’ve survived serious injuries to other players as well, including Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic and Marco Sturm. This time around, they might be even better equipped to handle Savard’s absence. Past experience alone should be a plus.
“We’ve been through adversity before,” said Bergeron. “We’re a strong team and even mentally, because of all the things that have happened in the past three years, I guess it’s something that we’ve learned to battle through. It makes us a stronger team.”
Boston’s depth up front, and particularly down the middle, is even more vital than the Bruins’ mental resilience. Chiarelli said that Seguin will definitely remain at center now rather than shift to the wing to start camp. Hamill skated briefly today after the team’s off-ice testing and reported he’s in the best shape of his life. David Krejci got a clean bill of health after offseason wrist surgery and should be primed to start this season better than he did last. Bergeron last season returned to form as Boston’s best two-way forward.
“It does give opportunity for some other young players to say, ‘Here’s my chance,’” said Julien.
Savard’s value has been lauded time and again by this blog, especially in light of Boston’s past struggles mustering enough offense. The Bruins won’t be able to make it very far if this latest setback turns into a long-term absence. Right now, his return date has yet to be determined. But for the short term, the Bruins can weather the storm and survive on their depth and determination until Savard gets back.